Monday, January 3, 2011

Ardennes ’44 (GMT) – 8 Turn Scenario, Part 1

Game: Ardennes ‘44
Scenario: 8 – Turn Scenario
Participants: Bob H and Myself
Time: Sunday, Jan 2nd ~ 2.30PM – 6.00PM

Bob and I have recently completed a 6-turn refresher of this game and wanted to play it again to take advantage of all the rules that we had refreshed on. Not to mention that our last game was perhaps the most interesting/exciting Bulge game we’ve yet to play. In it I was able to capture (for a time at least) a fuel dump and we saw an extraordinary break out of the 5th Panzer Army. I offered Bob switching sides, but he wanted to stick with the US to see if he could do better this time, thus I am going the play the Germans again.

When I set up a game like this, I don’t really have a preconceived notion of a new trick I am going to try or perhaps a different strategy. In this case I am only going to try and be ‘better’, that is I am going to try and be more efficient and improve my play over the last time. In our previous game we saw some pretty impressive rolling on the opening attacks in the 5PA area that lead to the big break out. We also saw some of the worst rolling in a long time in the 7th Armies sector. Aside from the dice, I know that we made some rules errors that we’re both going to try and avoid this time. Bob and I both really like getting a game right over winning or losing or other things. I personally just enjoy the new and unique experience that each new game brings to an interesting historical situation such as this.

Lastly I’ll touch on how much this game is growing on me. I had talked last time we played about how much we both like Deluxe Bitter Woods having played that perhaps a half a dozen times. Before our recent game we had played this one only a couple times and were pretty neutral on it. However the more time I spend with the game this time around, the more I am really starting to like it. The art and graphics are certainly on par with if not slightly better than DBW(the map is certainly THE best Bulge map), but it’s all the little chrome in the rules that I am starting to really enjoy. I also have to say that sitting down this time and being able to ‘see’ the map and what is possible/probable certainly makes the 2nd time around much more interesting. The last time we played we weren’t well prepared for that.

Set Up

Initial Set Up
I used the provided set up as a guide but made some adjustments this time around based on what we had seen in our last game. In the 6PA’s area, I decided to simply hold the line near Monschau. Last time we played we weren’t aware that the two US artillery units near there can fire in defense on the 16AM turn. Thus I got away with a crime in our first game when I was able to take this VP city with the 326VG. The 12ID and 277ID are both pretty straight forward in their set up options leaving not a lot of room to alter from the historical start. I did have a little leeway in setting up the 3FJ, 1SS and 12SS as well as the corps Artillery assets. As you can see from the picture I am making sure that both of the SS divisions are on Primary roads so that I can get them up to the front ASAP on the 16PM turn.

16AM combat, yellow dice are pre-artillery odds
The 6th Panzer Army gives some choices to the player in how he sets it up for the PM turn. In addition you are going to be able to attack with most of the Armies Panzer Divisions on the first turn, with only Lehr being held in place.

The 7th Army is where I really wanted to do better. I knew I was going to make fewer attacks then last time, so I thought long and hard on which ones to make and where to wait. On this front Bob is spread pretty thin and will not be able to stop me flanking his units, thus pushing him back. Often I found places where I could Tac Move on either side of him instead of attacking, thus threatening his retreat and line of supply, all of this is with the intention of me pushing him off his starting line without taking very heavy losses like I did last time.

First Turn: 16AM

After German Combat Phase 16AM
The 6PA doesn’t have anywhere near the success that I had hoped to have. You can see in the picture the first turn combats, the yellow dice are pre-artillery odds (thus a 2 = a 2-1 attack). I was able to kill the Cav unit on my left and push one unit off the starting line, I had two other ENG results. Not a great start but at least I know we did it by the book this time.

Things went a lot betting in the 5PZ front. I got a breakthrough combat that lead to an attack against the Artillery unit (VIII/333) in Losheim Gap. I was only able to ENG’d the artillery unit, thus it’s ZOC would be blocking on the 2nd turn. The 116PD and 560VG attacks went very well, I was able to rout/kill/retreat most of the US units in this section. This part of the map is easily the weakest part of the US line, as you can see by the kinds of odds I was able to get in the opening round (yellow dice). The two mechanized Infantry regiments of the 2PD crossed the Our River to attack the unit in Marnach and sent it running, I did take a step loss here though and these steps are precious.

After German Combat Phase, 16PM *Blue Dice = Bridge SSR
I think I only made two or three attacks on the 7A frontage and these went ok. I was much happier with my progress on this front then I was in my last game. Again I site the improved rules knowledge that we both have specifically ZOC bonds and Supply Paths. You can see from the yellow dice here that the attacks in this area need a lot of Artillery to get up on the 3-1 column.

16PM & Night Turns

This is easily one of the most important turns in the game, you have to start making the holes in the US line and take some key bridges to keep your offensive on schedule. Sadly, Bob’s Americans of the 99th Infantry Division were determined to stand their ground. Bob could really only try and plug the small hole I had made in the 6PA section with Traffic markers and a couple of Infantry Battalions. These proved up to the task though. I wasn’t able to break out of the forest behind the Losheim Gap in this turn or the Night turn (I’ll refrain from talking about the dice…but OMG!). Additionally I took a loss from the King Tiger Battalion (Peiper), which will not be able to be replaced. The 277ID pushed another US battalion off the starting line and the 12ID did the same in the traffic hex, still nothing like the big break out that I need for the two SS PD’s. I think Bob did a great job with his scarce resources here.
6PA Front after 16PM turn

The 5PA had some amazing success however, offsetting the slow progress in the North. The 2PD was able to clear Clervaux and get several hexes down the road to Bastogne, while the 116PD was able to get both of the key bridges in its area. Lehr managed the traffic much better this time around and will be making an impact in the 17AM turn. Also of note is that I trapped (or rather Bob perhaps misplaced) CCA of the 9AD a few hexes South of Marnach, this unit is a Vehicle type and doesn’t have an open road to escape on. This will make it much easier on the 7A frontage.

Progress was steady in the 7A area. I was able to OOS and eliminate the Battalion in Echernach without taking losses. Recall last game that this unit cost me at least 4 steps from the 212ID. Also you can see from the picture that he’s going to have a hard time making a line, and I’ll still be able to penetrate it as he doesn’t have enough units to block me with ZOC bonds.
5PA front, Start of at end of 16N turn

7A front, end of 16N turn

The norther Shoulder, end of 16N turn

All in all things are going ok. We have a pretty big break in the US line in the 5PA front, which is pretty standard. I hope that I’ll finally be able to make some progress in the 6PA section on the 17th.

1 comment:

  1. Tough fighting. Looking forward to further reports.